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How To Distinguish Between Cold Or Allergy Symptoms And a Toxic Home

Posted in Air Quality, on February 28, 2017

Although colds and allergies are most often linked with seasonal change, it’s always concerning if symptoms are ongoing or never-ending. That runny nose, the itchy throat, and those watery eyes are troubling when they persist, and when there’s no particular cause.

The thing is, while there is good reason to address a winter cold or a seasonal allergy, there could also be other reasons for compromised health in and around the home. In some cases, a so-called toxic home may at fault. When indoor air quality affects health, the symptoms are wide and varied: watering eyes; sinus congestion; running nose; frequent sneezing; excessive mucous; bronchial coughing. The tricky part, of course, is identifying whether it’s the air quality or something else. With allergies, even poor quality indoor air can be aggravating, mainly because dust and pollen are constantly in the air. Bottom line: when symptoms continue unabated, it’s time to explore the indoor environment. To be sure, there’s a big difference between poor air quality in the home and something akin to “toxic home syndrome”. Regardless of the severity, health and wellbeing shouldn’t be comprised.

Unfortunately, when indoor pollutants are excessive (or out of control) the run-of-the-mill health symptoms can deteriorate. And industry statistics don’t bode well - far too many homes suffer from poor indoor air quality, and far too many residents suffer the ill effects on their health. The thing is, much leisure time is spent indoors these days, and particularly during inclement winter weather. Worse still, it’s estimated that indoor air is far more polluted than outdoor air, and because it’s a confined area, it’s easier to inhale various chemicals, biological materials, and contaminants.

Truth is, there is no shortage of indoor pollutants in a typical home – everything from dust mites, to pet dander, to volatile organic compounds, to mold and mold spores. In extreme cases, there are also gases than can pollute indoor air. Radon, for example, although a natural gas in the soil, can infiltrate the home. The same goes for carbon monoxide, when heating systems or chimneys are poorly maintained. Unlike commonplace pollutants, these require more specialized attention, and professional remediation. As well, these types of infiltrations will likely present quite severe signs and symptoms, not even closely resembling a common cold. Whether a home is old or new, building materials can also affect health, with various symptoms that are out of the norm.  In much older homes, lead paint, asbestos, and formaldehyde can cause  serious health problems if left unattended. For that matter, new homes, using modern building materials, can often be responsible for serious “off-gassing”. Either way, inhabitants are exposed to the worst kind of air contamination, with the potential for health issues to exacerbate.

For optimum health and wellbeing, there’s no reason to debate when it comes to air quality in the home. And clearly, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Here, a comprehensive indoor air quality test is a wise investment, both for short-term relief of ongoing symptoms, and long term wellbeing.

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